Water Torture

Dana Milbanks on a really gruelling day in the life of a candidate

It was the beginning of a day-long water torture for Hillary Clinton and her campaign, as Obama aimed, by day’s end, to reach the 2,118 delegates needed to clinch the Democratic presidential nomination — with a combination of superdelegates and regular delegates from the last two states to hold a Democratic vote, South Dakota and Montana.

And she’s right, you know. Cuz waiting is torture, right?

Catch 22 [Hazing (fee fi fo fun for me) Update IV]

After four previous posts, this one looks like the final post. There’s nothing to be added, really. This is from Froomkin’s column in the Washington Post

President Bush would authorize waterboarding future terrorism suspects if certain criteria are met, White House spokesman Tony Fratto said this morning, one day after the director of the CIA for the first time publicly acknowledged his agency’s use of the tactic, which generally involves strapping a prisoner to a board, covering his face or mouth with a cloth, and pouring water over his face to create the sensation of drowning.

and now check out this brazen explanation:

Knox writes that Fratto “rejected charges that the tactics the Central Intelligence Agency calls ‘enhanced interrogation techniques’ amount to torture.

“‘Torture is illegal. Every enhanced technique that has been used by the Central Intelligence Agency through this program was brought to the Department of Justice and they made a determination that its use under specific circumstances and with safeguards was lawful,’ he said.”

And here’s the kicker: “Asked whether the White House’s reasoning was that torture is illegal, the attorney general has certified that the interrogation practices are legal, therefore those practices are not torture, Fratto replied: ‘Sure.'”

Hazing (fee fi fo fun for me) Update III

OH I know this is a hot topic right now and I should not post everytime something interesting crops up but this is the last time, promise, after having written about it three times before. Here’s the first posting
and here’s the second. This is the most recent posting. You’ll notice I stopped explaining things. These things speak for themselves, as does this piece from the Washington Post

The United States knows quite a bit about waterboarding. The U.S. government — whether acting alone before domestic courts, commissions and courts-martial or as part of the world community — has not only condemned the use of water torture but has severely punished those who applied it.

After World War II, we convicted several Japanese soldiers for waterboarding American and Allied prisoners of war. At the trial of his captors, then-Lt. Chase J. Nielsen, one of the 1942 Army Air Forces officers who flew in the Doolittle Raid and was captured by the Japanese, testified: “I was given several types of torture. . . . I was given what they call the water cure.” He was asked what he felt when the Japanese soldiers poured the water. “Well, I felt more or less like I was drowning,” he replied, “just gasping between life and death.”

Nielsen’s experience was not unique. Nor was the prosecution of his captors. After Japan surrendered, the United States organized and participated in the International Military Tribunal for the Far East, generally called the Tokyo War Crimes Trials. Leading members of Japan’s military and government elite were charged, among their many other crimes, with torturing Allied military personnel and civilians. The principal proof upon which their torture convictions were based was conduct that we would now call waterboarding.

Hazing (fee fi fo fun for me) Update II

Written about this before. Here’s the first posting
and here’s the second.

Washington Post

Attorney general nominee Michael B. Mukasey told Senate Democrats today that a kind of simulated drowning known as waterboarding is “repugnant,” but he does not know whether the interrogation technique violates U.S. laws against torture.

Mukasey, whose nomination to replace Alberto R. Gonzales has become less certain because of his refusal to offer an opinion on waterboarding, also wrote in a letter to Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee that he did not know if U.S. interrogators had used waterboarding because he is not cleared to receive classified information.

But, in reiterating earlier promises to the committee, Mukasey pledged to study the issue if confirmed and to reverse any legal opinions by the Justice Department that violate the Constitution or U.S. law.

“If, after such a review, I determine that any technique is unlawful, I will not hesitate to so advise the president and will rescind or correct any legal opinion of the Department of Justice that supports the use of the technique,” Mukasey wrote.

But by continuing to resist invitations to declare waterboarding illegal, Mukasey seems certain to heighten tensions between the administration and congressional Democrats, many of whom have said their votes hinge on whether the former federal judge agrees that waterboarding constitutes torture.

See also The New York Times

Waterboarding has also been a flashpoint among Republican presidential candidates. Last week, after Rudolph W. Giuliani, the former New York mayor, said he wasn’t sure about waterboarding because he thought “the liberal media” might not have described it properly, Senator John McCain of Arizona, who was tortured himself as a prisoner in North Vietnam, shot back.

“All I can say is that it was used in the Spanish Inquisition, it was used in Pol Pot’s genocide in Cambodia, and there are reports that it is being used against Buddhist monks today,” Mr. McCain said.

Hazing (fee fi fo fun for me) Update

Very interesting piece in today’s Washington Post. on a group of WW II interrogators.

When about two dozen veterans got together yesterday for the first time since the 1940s, many of the proud men lamented the chasm between the way they conducted interrogations during the war and the harsh measures used today in questioning terrorism suspects.

“I feel like the military is using us to say, ‘We did spooky stuff then, so it’s okay to do it now,’ ” said Arno Mayer, 81, a professor of European history at Princeton University.

“We did it with a certain amount of respect and justice,” said John Gunther Dean, 81, who became a career Foreign Service officer and ambassador to Denmark. The interrogators had standards that remain a source of pride and honor.

In contrast, Bush minces words again, which reminded me of Krugman’s recent remark on the lighthearted cruelty of many Republican politicians.


ps. I have to refer back to my last piece on hazing and esp. to the nunberg link when I see that Le Monde, with this title

M. Bush nie l’usage de la torture dans les geôles de la CIA, malgré la multiplication de pièces accablantes

are missing the point about Bush’s denial and the remarkable cruelty that accompanies the President’s choice of words, completely.

Hazing (fee fi fo fun for me)

In the New York Times today.
Can’t talk about it just now. I’ll just quote. Wtf?

Later that year, as Congress moved toward outlawing “cruel, inhuman and degrading” treatment, the Justice Department issued another secret opinion, one most lawmakers did not know existed, current and former officials said. The Justice Department document declared that none of the C.I.A. interrogation methods violated that standard.

The Bush administration had entered uncharted legal territory beginning in 2002, holding prisoners outside the scrutiny of the International Red Cross and subjecting them to harrowing pressure tactics. They included slaps to the head; hours held naked in a frigid cell; days and nights without sleep while battered by thundering rock music; long periods manacled in stress positions; or the ultimate, waterboarding.

Interrogators were worried that even approved techniques had such a painful, multiplying effect when combined that they might cross the legal line, Mr. Kelbaugh said. He recalled agency officers asking: “These approved techniques, say, withholding food, and 50-degree temperature — can they be combined?” Or “Do I have to do the less extreme before the more extreme?”

Still interesting, readable and something to worry about is Nunberg’s old-ish piece on torture/hazing

ps. the nunberg piece is also of interest given this response by the White House

”This country does not torture,” White House press secretary Dana Perino told reporters. ”It is a policy of the United States that we do not torture and we do not.’